CINCINNATI — Naji Marshall scored 17 points and Xavier used a big run in the second half to beat No. 17 Villanova by double digits on Sunday.
Marshall also grabbed seven rebounds and dished out four assists for Xavier in the 66-54 victory, as Villanova suffered three straight losses in Big East action for the first time since the conference was restructured.http://gty.im/1125344131
Sophomore guard Paul Scruggs added 14 points and six rebounds, Quentin Goodin scored 11 points and Zach Hankins finished with 10 for the Musketeers (15-13, 7-8), who were winning for the fourth straight time to match their season best.
Eric Paschall led the Villanova with 17 points, while Phil Booth had 12 points in the first half and ended with 14 along with six rebounds and four assists for the Wildcats (20-8, 11-4).
Villanova led 30-27 at halftime, but Xavier used a big 17-0 surge to build a 58-44 lead with 6:25 to play.
The Wildcats struggled to get going on offense, going 20-59 from the field for 33.9 percent, while shooting 27.8 percent from 3-point range.
Sunday’s defeat followed back-to-back road losses at St. John’s and Georgetown.
“I think we’re just not executing the way we want to, not getting any easy baskets off our defense, so it makes every shot monumental,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said.
As a team, Xavier, the defending Big East regular season champion, shot 51.1 percent from the floor in the win, as the Musketeers avenged an 85-75 defeat to the Wildcats on Jan. 18.
Both teams will be in action again in midweek.
Villanova hosts Marquette on Wednesday, while Xavier plays at St. John’s on Thursday.